Condemning the gang-rape of the Garo woman on the night of April 21, eminent citizens of the country have said the culture of lack of justice is what drives these incidents.
The episode came at a time when the entire nation is still reeling from the shock of mass molestation on women during Pahela Baishakh celebrations. This new assault has sparked outrage from all walks of life.
The 21-year-old woman from the Garo ethnic community was forced into a microbus near Jamuna Future Park and gang-raped, and later dropped at Jashimuddin road in Dhaka.
Protests have been pouring in from all tiers of society demanding the arrest of the perpetrators and their exemplary punishment.
The Daily Star talked to some working women and eminent citizens of the country seeking their opinions on the rise of such heinous crimes and the government’s mum stance on it.
These incidents are on the rise, which is a testament to the fact that the criminals are not being punished. Lack of justice and punishment of the criminals is the reason behind it, said Sanjib Drong, general secretary of Adivasi Forum.
Added to that is the social and cultural harassment the victim has to face. The court process takes a long time and the victim has to go through this exasperation over and over again.
“I think the young Garo woman has shown great courage by going to the police and her case should be dealt with utmost priority.”
In regard to the government’s stance over the issue, he said, “State has not been able to ensure safety of all its citizens, especially women. This case should have gotten top priority and the fact that the government kept mum about this goes to show that they do not think likewise.”
“I feel indigenous woman do not feel safe in this city. They come to this city with many dreams and this city disappoints and frustrates them. They feel as if this city is not for them,” said Drong.
“What happened is a glaring example of the shortcomings of our society,” Rina Ray, Director of Manusher Jonno Foundation.
“I condemn this incident and I am rendered speechless at the crime,” said Ray.
She ponders on the kind of people this society is rearing and the exercise of power in this circumstance.
“How terrible is it, that someone is preplanning a rape. What kind of people have we raised?” said a disappointed Ray.
The governments’ shortcoming in providing security to its people and the law enforcement agencies’ poor action encourages such behavior even more, adds Ray.
Although she has lived here for a long time and felt the city was like her home, the recent event has completely shaken her up and shocked her.
“After I heard this incident, every time I passed Jashimuddin road I felt insecure, and scared,” said Prima Chakma, a young university graduate living in Dhaka city.
She said these incidents are on the rise because the criminals get away and are not being punished. She urges the government to take immediate action.
The young woman also asked the victims of such incidents to come forward and not try to cover up these heinous crimes.
Anonymous Journalist (Indigenous Female):
As a working woman who has to frequently travel late at night, she demands a safer and more secure road for women to travel.
The journalist said, “People need to change this attitude of viewing women as a commodity and look at her as a human being.”
She urged for tough action against the criminals and also said that people need counseling to help change their behaviour.
She said these incidents were always prevalent, but one good thing is that women are now speaking out and they feel empowered to no longer tolerate these incidences.
“The young Garo woman went to the authorities, filed a case and spoke out against the heinous crime; this shows courage” said Housna, a working woman in her early 20s.
“These regular, sometimes preplanned attacks are outrageous! But then again, we are fighting against it more than ever.” she added.
She condemned the lack of punishment and sought tough measures against the criminals and said this was what encourages the assaulters to partake in such terrible crimes.
“Even though I am an independent working woman who is used to traveling alone, I still look over my shoulder every time I leave my home. Should it be like that?” she asked.